The inaccurate report was widely disseminated, thanks to the show’s biggest fan, President Donald Trump, who had tweeted, “James Comey leaked CLASSIFIED INFORMATION to the media. That is so illegal!” (The all-caps bit is his.)
F&F‘s report had claimed Comey leaked classified information in a memo he wrote about an uncomfortable-making meeting he had with Trump. Comey testified, you’ll recall, about how he’d given that memo to a friend after Trump sacked him and then tweeted ominously that Comey better stop to think whether their conversation was recorded, in case he was thinking about leaking anything.
Trump’s least-favorite news network CNN recently suffered an embarrassing retraction of an original report, which cost three staffers their jobs. Fox & Friends, however, did not claim its incorrect story was an original report. Rather, the program was referencing a report by The Hill from Sunday in which it said more than half of the memos Comey filed after his meetings with Trump contained classified information. But when F&F co-host Jilian Mele relayed the info to viewers Monday morning, it had been given an upgrade on the scandal-o-meter:
“A brand-new bombshell report accuses Comey of putting our national security at risk,” she said starkly. “According to The Hill, the former FBI director’s personal memos detailing private conversations with President Trump contained top-secret information.”
Word got around of the error, which Fox News said would be addressed on Tuesday morning’s program.
“Yesterday on this program we aired and tweeted this story saying former FBI director James Comey leaked memos containing top-secret information,” Fox & Friends‘ Steve Doocy said. “We were mistaken in that… according to a report half of the memos contained information classified at the ‘secret’ or ‘confidential’ level, not ‘top secret.’ Markings of the government documents in which Mr. Comey leaked are, at this point, unclear. Just wanted to straighten that out.”